Artist Gardener Shares Beauty With Seniors
Ann Munson has made life more beautiful for others for decades. The West Linn artist is best known for her stained glass objects and panels, colored pencil works, paintings and collages. Her work graces the walls at the Portland International Airport and cancer and behavioral health wards in California hospitals, adding a sense of peace and calmness to the environments.
Munson will be the first to admit that 2018 was not a good year for her. Her husband of 46 years, Lynn, was suffering from Alzheimer's, and died Aug. 24, 2018.
"He could light up a room like nobody else," she said. As his primary caregiver, Munson was stretched to her limits, and after she broke her leg in three places on July 4, she had to place him in a care facility. She was horrified and heartbroken to see the conditions in which Lynn and other seniors were living.
"After Lynn died it left a big hole to fill," she said. "I needed something positive, something absorbing, challenging, beautiful and fulfilling."
She wanted to create something beautiful to share with seniors in assisted living facilities.
All her life she had been drawn to flowers and gardening. The Munsons live on a 14-acre farm in West Linn, which Lynn referred to as "paradise." Ann was determined to grow flowers to give to seniors in care facilities to bring some joy into their lives. The property already had a commercial greenhouse, which Munson used for an annual art show and sale in December. She started studying about commercial flower farming.
"Growing flowers for home is much different than commercial flower farming," she said. "There was a big learning curve." She began planning, then ordered books, seeds, dahlia tubers, old English roses, lumber, soil, gravel, weed cloth and more.
"I was fortunate to have Miguel, Santiago and Ignatio (her farming team) to do the work to make it all a reality," she said. "My friend, Ginger Steele provided continued advice and encouragement." Meanwhile she fussed over seedlings and encouraged them to grow.
"I planted seeds for everything that looked feasible, fun, different or just too pretty not to," she said. She has over 30 different flowers planted in raised beds with gravel paths for easy access, and there is a large area under a tree that her mother-in-law planted 30 years ago.
"There we will have classes to make art," Munson said. "Arrange flowers, have lemonade and cookies or simply enjoy the paradise of my farm."
Munson's mission with her flower farm, called 4th Quarter Farm, is to sell flowers to cover her costs, then the majority of the flowers will be picked, arranged and delivered to people in assisted living facilities and shut-ins who receive Meals on Wheels deliveries.
This winter she will attend a weekly webinar on a partial scholarship led by a flower farmer in Snohomish. She also has plans to set up a CSA (community supported agriculture) program where area residents and businesses can subscribe for weekly flower deliveries or pickups.
There are opportunities for community members to volunteer with 4th Quarter Farm's work. Volunteers can help pick, arrange flowers or deliver flowers to seniors. Donations of pint canning jars, in which the flowers are arranged, are welcome too.
"It never ceases to amaze me when I deliver flowers in person," Munson said. "'Flowers for us?' they say. I am constantly reassured I am doing the right thing."
To learn more, volunteer or order flowers visit 4thQuarterFarm.com or the 4th Quarter Farm Facebook page.
"My hope is to share my gratitude for my wonderful life and for that to extend to volunteer pickers, arrangers, flower deliverers and seniors who are confined," she said.
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